Kelowna students who won big on Dragon's Den now eyeing Christmas decorations and an online store | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna students who won big on Dragon's Den now eyeing Christmas decorations and an online store

Operation Take Two members Keneisha Charles, Theresa Schwab, and Aaliyah Charles (left to right) pose outside the repurposed shipping container that houses their project.
Image Credit: Submitted by Justin Schneider
November 21, 2019 - 6:00 AM

The Kelowna high school students whose green business plan lured dollars from CBC’s Dragons Den aren’t going to sit on their laurels in the wake of their success.

They’re currently putting together a new batch of products that will breathe new life into what was once waste and finding ways to spread their work

“We’re now working on holiday ornaments to be sold at markets around Kelowna and farmers markets and things like that,” Theresa Schwab, one of the founding members of Operation Take Two said, a week after the big win got to set in.

“Soon we’re going to open an online store.”

They’re also going to spread the eco-friendly empire.

Operation Take Two is currently all centred around a plastic recycling facility housed inside a steel shipping container.

Rutland Senior Secondary school students past and present use the facility to repurpose plastics that end up in blue bins and are sometimes non-recyclable or contaminated.

That plastic is cleaned, sorted and shredded into small flakes, put into an oven and poured into moulds that create new items like plant pots and reusable grocery bags. Then those plastics go back to the market in the form of something completely new. 

It’s the type of green efficiency in practice that won over the Dragons in a big way.

Not only did they get the investment of $30,000 they asked for — Okanagan entrepreneurs Jim Treliving and Lane Merrifield each donated $15,000 through their respective charities — GoodSpark Desjardins matched the donation, resulting in a total $60,000 boost for the company.

The GoodSpark program by Desjardins aims to support socially conscious ventures because dedicated entrepreneurs can make a difference and help create a prosperous future for everyone. Their investment is aimed at expanding production with a new workstation and new equipment.

The teens got a lot of positive reinforcement for the project, and they had a once in a lifetime experience on the Dragons’ Den.

“It was incredible, I was walking down the stairs and they look exactly how you see them on TV… while it was stressful and anxiety-inducing we felt supported,” she said. “It was awesome to be there and dump the plastic out dramatically and then have them react.”

It even translated well to TV.

“It was weird,” she said. “I was worried about editing how we would look. I knew it would work great… I was really proud of us.”

The work and the pride of this moment are something she won’t soon forget. Nor will she leave behind the lessons about community service.

“In the Okanagan, we’re surrounded by beautiful nature, but I really grew to care about the environment with Operation Take Two,” she said. “We all now work to be more sustainable in our own lives — it’s a huge passion... we feel like we have to and we want to do it.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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